SGA to require office hours of senators, adds duties to Judicial Council

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Nicole Ziege

The Student Government Association held its first Senate meeting of the year on Tuesday, where they approved three of the five proposed bills.

Student Government Association president Andi Dahmer referred to the organization as “one of the most dynamic” organizations on campus with the “power to impact change.” After Dahmer gave her report, 12 students were sworn in to their respective positions, including five committee chair members, four executive board members, Associate Justice and Secretary of Senate.

Five bills were brought before the Senate as proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Student Government Association. If passed by the Senate, then the proposed amendments will be voted upon by the WKU student body in the fall 2017 elections.

The first bill, Bill 1-17-F, proposed adding two new duties to the Judicial Council, which were reviewing and updating the Constitution of the Student Government Association. This proposed bill passed with majority by the Senate.

The second bill, Bill 2-17-F, proposed establishing the Chief Justice as Speaker of the Senate if the Speaker was absent or removed from his position, and it was passed with majority by the Senate.

Bill 4-17-F, the third bill brought to a vote, proposed a requirement for senators to post one office hour per week in the Student Government Association.

“We want to bring senators to the office to, like it says in the Constitution [of Student Government Association], have them accessible to the student body,” Chief of Staff Conner Hounshell said in his speech in favor of the bill.

There was debate over what defined the “one hour.” Public Relations Committee Chair William Hurst said he and his other committee members did much of their work in the Downing Student Union talking to students, rather than working specifically inside the Student Government Association office.

Hounshell proposed that the bill be passed and that the Senate would later decide what constituted the required one hour of work in the office. The bill was passed with majority by the Senate.

The fourth bill brought to a vote, Bill 5-17-F, written by Hurst, proposed limiting the legislative powers of the executive branch. The specific power that Hurst proposed to limit was the power for the executive branch to write legislation.

“We need to write the legislation because that is our duty as senators,” Hurst said, arguing that allowing the executive branch to write legislation “limited the chances” for senators to gain experience and write legislation.

Several members of the Senate challenged Hurst’s bill, and with a 4-8 vote, the bill failed to pass.

The last bill, Bill 6-17-F, proposed to establish an emergency committee in order to select and appoint an open senate seat outside of the election cycle.

If a senator were to step down for any reason, the bill proposed that it would be the duty of the Student Government Association president to select a new member for that position within a week’s time. It would be the Senate’s duty to vote on whether or not the president’s choice for the open position was appropriate and have him/her sworn in.

After much debate, the bill failed to get a favorable majority by the Senate.

Dahmer said the bill comes from a lack of a streamlined process for new Senate positions. Past Student Government Association presidents devised their own system for appointing new Senate positions because the Constitution of the Student Government Association does not say how the new positions should be filled, according to Dahmer.

“In the next meeting, there are definitely some senator concerns and transparency concerns, and I will address them,” Dahmer said. “I will be devising my own process and will clarify next week.”

Administrative Vice President Kara Lowry said the first meeting of the semester was “fun,” considering the amount of debate that took place.

“It was very interesting,” Lowry said. “We don’t usually have this much debate during the first meeting.”

Reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]